“idyllis of a brushfire” by Mary Ellen Carroll

by Mary Ellen Carroll ’21

Winner- Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Prize


i am building a house in the hearts of my friends.
i’ll make them an apple pie from the tree i grew
let the woodchucks batter my windows with twigs
and leave a slice in my neighbors’ mailboxes.


have i suffered prettily enough?
is my eyeliner running just-so?
am i cut into pieces small
enough to swallow whole?


i earn a fresh collection of freckles from the garden
my loves stop by daily.
a tomato, some squash, lettuce
bittersweet in the window-boxes.


stuffing cotton into my bones
wandering an endless cornfield,
treating the bruises
with honey and salt.


i stop stoking the coals
and start wearing yellow.
callouses make homes on my palms
your sweater on the back of my chair.